Virginia Mobile Learning Apps Development Challenge

And the winners are…

In June 2009, the following apps were announced as the winners of the Virginia Mobile Learning Apps Development Challenge at the State Educational Technology Directors Association’s Emerging Technologies Forum held in conjunction with the National Educational Computing Conference in Washington, DC.

Number Line Todd Bowden
Freddy Fraction GAMeS Lab at Radford University
Fraction Factory GAMeS Lab at Radford University

These apps are available for download to users free of charge on the Apple App Store and support instruction in middle school mathematics.

Apps Development Challenge Overview

The Virginia Mobile Learning Apps Development Challenge was issued in April by Governor Timothy M. Kaine in collaboration with Virginia’s Secretary of Technology and the Virginia Department of Education for developers to produce mobile learning applications that engage middle school students in mathematics. The mathematics achievement of Virginia students on the sixth-grade mathematics Standards of Learning (SOL) test for 2007-08 was 68 percent, up from 60 percent in 2006-07. The Commonwealth wants to build upon this progress by pursuing innovative ways that excite students about mathematics and encourage advanced learning and achievement.

The challenge was part of Learning without Boundaries (LwB), an initiative launched with support from the Governor’s Productivity Investment Fund. This initiative is aimed at understanding the potential benefits of wireless handheld technologies in schools. Nearly all children in the United States have access to a mobile device: 93% of 6-to-9 year olds live in a home with a cell phone; more than 50% own a portable video game device; 30% have a personal cell phone; and 20% have personal digital music players. In short, mobile devices are an integral part of children’s lives.

The effort now is to leverage these devices effectively for teaching and learning; however, devices alone cannot achieve this goal. They must be coupled with meaningful learning applications. Perhaps the best example is Apple’s App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch. Since its launch in June 2008, more than 64,000 applications have been developed for these devices, ranging from games, to utilities, to social networking, to medical uses. More than 4,000 education apps are currently available.

The purpose of the Apps Development Challenge was not simply to add to the growing collection of iPod touch and iPhone apps but rather to meet specific learning needs—as identified through an analysis of mathematics achievement data from the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) Assessments and Algebra Readiness Diagnostic Test (ARDT). Furthermore, these new applications should use the features of handheld technologies to represent and model important mathematics concepts and skills that will encourage student-directed learning and enrichment beyond the classroom.

Apps submitted were required to reflect one or more of the following priorities:
  • Fraction computation
  • Proportional and quantitative reasoning
  • Measurement conversions using proportions
  • Solving multistep consumer application problems
  • Equivalence relationships among fractions, decimals, and percents
  • Finding and ordering equivalent fractions, decimals, and percents on a number line

  • Judges
    The distinguished judges for the Virginia Mobile Learning Apps Development Challenge were Dr. Chris Dede, Yuvi Kochar, Lesa Mitchell, Matt Murphy, Dr. Patricia I. Wright, and Bronwyn (Brynn) Busher.

    Click here to read their bios.

    iPhone Application Programming, Stanford University